Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Final Countdown

I guess I abandoned my attempt of creating a 'year review', in part because it wasn't exactly coming good and in part because I didn't feel like typing up everything that happened this year... once again. And also in part because I answered some questions on Facebook that took up the best part of an hour or so and generally encompassed what 2009 was really like! So this short blog is going to be used to take the opportunity to wish all of you a fantastic Christmas and a great 2010! Enjoy your new year's eves and don't drink and drive :p

If 2009 was a positive year overall for you, then may 2010 be even better!

God Bless You all,

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Recess! Recess!

What a way to celebrate your fiftieth blog post! The Christmas holidays are finally upon us... well, effective 9 am tomorrow, anyway; and those two weeks of rest and, well, extra hours in studying, are so dearly needed.

Whilst I've just squeezed a pimple to the extent that it is now bleeding - smart move, I guess - it's time to celebrate and take a well-deserved break from the hecticness that University life provides us with.

I suppose it's been a half-decent first term - as usual, it's one that has flown by as quickly as anything but one that, of course, you see as rather long and drawn out when the scholastic year begins in October. Weirdly enough, January exams are already on our doorstep and before we know it, we'll once again be out of our winter clothing and back in t-shirts before heading off for summer holidays! Okay, that might be a bit premature, but summer is now only the best part of six (long) months away... that's always better than the "Nine Months to go" sign that we see at the end of each summer!

I'm also happy to say that, barring any major catastrophes or the introduction of a Secret Santa, my Christmas shopping is also finally done! I do have to buy my grandmother something still, but I've left that to my mother, who, quite disappointingly, has found absolutely nothing yet! Furthermore, my presents also all wrapped up - barring one which seems to be impossible to wrap so, yet again, I'm leaving it in mum's capable hands (thank goodness it isn't her present!) - so I'm pretty much sorted. And all my shopping was done in three excursions only. If that's not efficiency at its best, then I don't know what is!

The Christmas season really and truly does kick off tomorrow evening with the Christmas Ball! I'm actually looking forward to it; last year it was an absolute blast and everyone had enjoyed themselves, but tomorrow, what with a new venue *cough* in the middle of nowhere *cough* and all, it's going to be something completely different to what we're used to. It promises to be a good one nonetheless though!

I don't think this will be my last blog before Christmas - I still have my annual 'Year Review' to share, even though this year wasn't half as eventful as 2008 - but if it is, I'd like to wish you, my readers, the best Christmas ever; and may the birth of Jesus Christ bring everlasting joy and peace into your lives. :)

God Bless You all!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Land of Hypocrisy

A short blog to just, well, make a point. It really makes my face light up with an incomparable amount of joy when certain things do indeed happen.

Apparently, today at Junior College, Pulse (read: lowlife rogues), representing KSJC I guess, decided to throw eggs and beer at students, presumably as a mode of celebration for winning last Friday's student council elections for the third year running. Of course, that is an immensely dignified way of celebrating, especially with it coming hot on the heels of a barrage of complaints from the school vis-a-vis University graduates.

Therefore, I wonder where my good friend, Charles Caruana Carabez, a.k.a. the wet blanket, is now. Probably defending these actions, I guess, as they occurred by the College's own students. Or maybe just silent on the matter, even if he wasn't able to give lessons today due to these people's actions.

As much as the place has a number of nice people, Junior College is indeed the land of hypocrisy. If the shoe doesn't fit, hell, it seems as if a large number of people still wear it, presumably because they can get away with it all, no? I'd just love to know what University students think about this. And of course, feedback from JC students, including people at Pulse if they wish (but I don't believe I do know people from there) would be appreciated.

God Bless You all,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Don't Forget To Call Future Professionists Idiots

Before reading this blog, I encourage you to read the following linked article:

I didn't intend to write a blog for a short period of time now, but events today have left me with no choice but to do otherwise. Needless to say, such events are stimulated by a controversial incident that would not have been brought up had a certain Charles Caruana Carabez not mentioned it on the local newspapers in the first place.

Mr. Caruana Carabez (herein referred to as CCC), who was perhaps slightly in the right regarding the circumstances which he criticised, wrote a letter to the newspaper regarding the unruly behaviour of certain students during graduation. Up to there, I'll give the author a certain amount of credit, as more often than not, things do get out of control sufficiently enough to cause chaos and public disorder, something which is not right at all. Indeed, I do not condone such behaviour. However, what was stated by CCC after this general notion was, I felt, demeaning to all University students and extremely out of place. Basically, CCC labelled such graduates 'louts' and 'idiots', among other terms; a generalisation of sorts that was completely uncalled for and strongly downplayed the University graduates' successes. Yeah, it's always smart to call those people that you're going to have to rely on in the future; all those lawyers, teachers, accountants, architectures and doctors, among others, idiots.

What initially struck me was that CCC wrote his letter in the belief that this only happens at Junior College, whereas in reality, this also takes place at St. Aloysius' College and De La Salle College. And, in the case of the law students, in front of the Law Courts as well. Anyway, the only difference is that till now, both SAC and DLS have not issued a complaint of any sorts. Indeed, it is well-known that at SAC, the graduates are allowed to enter the building (although requested to leave any alcohol external to the premises) and celebrate among the Sixth Form students accordingly before proceeding to their next destination. Obviously, CCC seems to be oblivious to the fact that Junior College is not the only institution that is affected accordingly by a bunch of graduates celebrating.

The coup de grace in CCC's letter came about when he stated that "[he is] not a spoilsport, nor a wet blanket" but was totally against this "hedonism". With all due respect to the author, taking away the buscades for graduates as a mode of celebration could readily compare to him having his English Literature books stolen and him not being able to read them accordingly and teach them to his pupils. The fact that CCC also claims that "there will be a court case" vis-a-vis loss of earnings, noise pollution etc. in relation to such buscades can only make one laugh out loud at what has degenerated from a solid, initial argument to one that is impertinently stupid.

Of course, however, the best is reserved till last... Comments about the letter obviously show both sides to the story, with some Junior College students defending the lecturer and labelling these actions as ridiculous as well; and University students defending their right to enjoy their graduation and not be muted by a select few that think that such actions are not apt of graduates. Perhaps, for the lecturers, their University days were back in time immemorial; while for the students, this reeks of irony as in a few years up the road, the current crop of JC students will be graduating for the first time and going on a buscade of their own! I highly doubt that they'd then be defending the College... they don't know what they are yet to face when they reach their tertiary education years, poor souls. Furthermore, certain comments went down to the level of personal insults, one of which was directed towards me. Of course, the Times now refuse to answer emails regarding the original commenter... I'd love to have his email in hand so that I give him a piece of my mind and tell him who was brought up badly and whose family should be insulted.

It may be "degrading" for some, but I, for one, am looking forward to next year's buscade. Where I think having a go at CCC would only be a justified reaction for the ton of tripe that he wrote and the ton of insults that he directed towards us. And yes, the buscade is definitely happening, now, irrespective of the public transport reform.

Furthermore, I obviously have nothing against Junior College, but please don't play the victims and act as if you're the only ones that are affected on an annual basis by this as you're not!!

And don't forget to call your future professionists idiots.

God Bless You all!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Let's GO, Melita!

Finally, something actually worthwhile that I can write about.

I have to admit, when reading the recent news that Melita had lost the rights to transmit Barclays Premier League matches from season 2010/11 through to season 2012/13 to GO plc, I was extremely shocked. To say the least. This means that a large chunk of sporting action that I see on the weekends would indeed be gone from my very eyes, provided that I remain with Melita for the next three odd years. Which, judging by the way how it's going downhill, I don't think will really be the case, but anyway. Anyhow, as a response to this, Melita claimed that they are still the leaders in providing sports to local households, and they also still retained exclusive rights in items such as the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Serie A and the Bundesliga.

So far, all is fine and dandy. It was the typical response that I expected from Melita, one which obviously tried to make them look in as little a bad light as possible while, at the same time, promoting the programmes which they show. Of course, they did forget to mention that Saturday afternoons will probably be spent, after August 2010, with replays of old Italian and German football matches being shown on their (now excessive) eight different channels dedicated to sport; these interspersed with everyone's favourite show, a bout of horse racing from Sweden. Naturally, I'm hoping you're noting the sarcastic tone here. Furthermore, they also conveniently forgot to tell us customers that the price of the sports package will probably still be going up due to some fabricated administrative cost, or something of the sort. In brief, Melita will indeed become more pathetic than they already are come the end of Summer 2010.

However, while thinking over it, I ended up by coming to another conclusion vis-a-vis what is happening with GO and Melita. Perhaps it is a bit far-fetched, but I think it's worth stating it nonetheless. I noticed a trend in Melita's declining sporting list year after year: in 2007, GO announced that they would be transmitting Wimbledon from 2008 onwards; in 2008, GO announced that they had managed to obtain the exclusive rights to transmit Formula 1 from 2009 onwards; and now, in 2009 GO announced that they will be transmitting the Premier League from 2010. (Of course, Melita's prices never decreased despite the fact that two major sporting events were not transmitted over the last two years; and I fully expect this trend to continue come 2010, hence the reasoning for my logic above). Coincidence? I think not.

My belief is that both Melita and GO are currently in breach of the law. To be more specific, I think that these two companies are breaching Articles 5 and 9 of the Competition Act (in Malta), or Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU, the ex-EC Treaty), i.e. there is collusion going on between both Melita and GO with regard their television services, meaning that there is the notion of market distortion in this sector and abuse of a dominant position. I will start with the latter point though, as this seems to be easier to tackle.

For a start, with regards abuse of a dominant position, there must be two criteria satisfied; i.e. dominant position in the relevant market and abuse. It can clearly be argued that combined, both Melita and GO have got a majority share in the television market, especially with regard to the relevant product market (sporting events), as both providers show pretty much everything, be it football, Formula 1 or wrestling. The geographical and temporal markets do not have any relevance in this circumstance. Secondary to this, there must be abuse. Now, while this is not a notion that us students have exactly tackled just yet, I can understand that there is the potential for the constant switching of services from one provider to another to be classified as abuse. Both providers may indeed be doing this to simultaneously increase their shares in the market relating to sporting events, and hence increase clientele and profits accordingly. If this is proven, and of course, it is obviously much more difficult to do so other than just stating that which I am currently stating, then there already is a breach of Article 9 of the Competition Act or Article 102 of the TFEU.

This brings me to my second point. Is there collusion going on between Melita and GO, which are, for the purposes of the law, classified as two undertakings? If I had to apply my theory, as I briefly outlined in bold above, then one could argue that there is a horizontal agreement between both television providers. However, such a horizontal agreement would have to be proven by means of oral or written communication; and quite frankly, I doubt both companies would do something as stupid and as ridiculous as that; and is hence extremely difficult to prove. Prima facie, one might also argue that this could fall under the heading of a concerted practice between undertakings, but upon further examination of this notion, one must realise and understand that this is "a form of coordination between undertakings which, without having reached the stage where an agreement properly so called has been concluded, knowingly substitutes practical cooperation between them for the risks of competition". Therefore, one cannot classify that happening between both companies as such a concerted practice, for the purposes of Competition Law.

The second part of Article 5(1) speaks of market distortion. The law states that "any agreement between undertakings... having the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition" is prohibited. It is necessary to look at the conjunction 'or' over here, as this means that not both the object and effect must be proven, but if one is proven, then it is enough. One could seriously argue that both undertakings' actions are currently having the desired effect. But do these actions fall under the exceptions to the articles in question? After analysing the law accordingly, I cannot see how the exceptions as outlined in Article 5(3) or 101(3) apply to absolve both companies of colluding to distort competition. However, it must be noted that this line of attack, I believe, is significantly weaker than that found in Article 9/Article 102.

Of course, being just a student, I could be wrong in both circumstances. Indeed, after theorising a bit too much about it, I'm starting to doubt the validity of these arguments myself. But I'll leave it to anyone else with proper judgement to go ahead and comment on the situation at hand; even though I still believe that something fishy is going on between these two major players within the Maltese communications market.

God Bless You all!